High Usage Charge
As part of ongoing changes in electric rate reform across California, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) directed SDG&E and the other California investor-owned utilities to implement a High Usage Charge to encourage customers to conserve energy.
The High Usage Charge applies to customers on the Standard residential tiered plan whose energy use is above 400% of their baseline allowance, which is considered well above the typical usage for the average household. Once a customer reaches the High Usage Charge threshold, it triggers a higher price for all electricity used beyond the 400% mark for the remainder of that billing cycle.
For customers who reach the High Usage Charge, it can have a significant impact on their bill. SDG&E petitioned the CPUC to eliminate or suspend the High Usage Charge. That request was recently denied.
Customers can still avoid the High Usage Charge by enrolling in a Time-of-Use plan, which is not subject to the High Usage Charge.
In the coming months, SDG&E will pursue other bill relief options, such as eliminating seasonal pricing changes. Under the seasonal pricing structure, higher electricity prices go into effect during the summer months (June – October). Eliminating seasonal pricing would also require CPUC review and approval.
How much is it?
The High Usage Charge is a higher price per kilowatt-hour above tier 2.
The outlined pricing has been rounded for illustrative purposes. Visit ‘Total Electric Rates’ for complete pricing schedules and additional pricing plan details.
The Baseline Allowance is the amount of energy required to cover your basic household needs such as lighting, cooking, heating and refrigeration. Your individual baseline is reviewed and approved by the State of California and is determined by your climate zone, season number of days in your billing cycle and whether you’re a gas-only or gas and electric customer.
How does knowing your baseline allowance help you avoid the High Usage Charge? The purpose of the High Usage Charge is to encourage energy conservation. This state-mandated charge only impacts you if your household exceed 400% of your baseline allowance. This is similar to how the data plan for your mobile phone works, where you're charged more for data use in excess of your allocated data. Knowing your baseline and managing when and how much energy you use may result in lowering your energy bills.
Get alerts to save
Subscribe to High Usage text or email alerts so you'll know when you are approaching or have reached energy use triggering the High Use Charge.
What should I do?
- First, use the calculator above to determine what level of electricity use results in the new charge. Compare this amount of usage to your bill to see if you're close to or have reached this level.
- Second, sign up for alerts if you feel your electricity use could reach these levels.
- Third, take steps to manage your energy use to avoid the charge.
Use online saving tools
- Compare your electricity pricing plan choices. You may save by choosing another plan.
- Set a spending goal and get email or text alerts when you've reached it.
- Subscribe to a weekly email alert summarizing your energy use each week.
Go to sdge.com/MyAccount
Shop, compare, get rebates
- Comparison shop for the best price on energy-efficient products. You can also get price-change alerts.
- See estimates on annual energy savings and popularity ratings for these products.
- Apply for rebates through an easy online process.
Shop now at sdge.com/marketplace
As a CARE customer, you're currently receiving a monthly bill discount of up to 38%. However, high electricity use may make you ineligible to continue receiving this discount. If you exceed four times the amount of your baseline allowance, you're subject to both the High Usage Charge and eligibility re-verification. The re-verification process will start with a separate letter sent from our CARE Program team.
Consider making changes to your home's energy use so you can avoid the High Usage Charge. If you're eligible, the Energy Savings Assistance Program could provide you with free energy-efficient home improvements that can make your home more comfortable and save you money now and for years to come.
The High Usage Charge is based on electricity use. To avoid the charge you need to use less than 400% of your baseline allowance. Be sure to sign up for alerts so you're aware of your energy use during the month. And you can follow these no-cost savings tips and low-cost savings tips to save money.
Time-of-Use pricing plans are not subject to the High Usage Charge. You can evaluate your available options in My Account.
It depends on several factors, such as high temperatures. Typically, there are about 100,000 customers in the region that will reach this level of electricity use one or more times in a year. There are about 1.3 million residential customers overall, so this is slightly less than 10% of all customers.